fbpx
The annual Global Impact Conference 2022 brings together visionary business leaders to revolutionize educational systems and inspire collaborative actionRead more APO Group announces content partnership with Pan-African broadcaster VoxAfricaRead more MainOne, an Equinix Company’s MDXi Appolonia Achieves Tier III Constructed Facility certification (TCCF), Now Most Certified Data Center in GhanaRead more United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warns rising tide of hunger, insecurity, and underfunding worsening gender-based violence risksRead more The Royal Thai Embassy presents the cultures of Thailand at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Festival in KenyaRead more Climate change is the biggest global threat, young people in Africa and Europe tell European Investment Bank (EIB), Debating Africa and Debating EuropeRead more $2 million in prizes awarded at Conference of the Parties (COP27) to African youth-led businessesRead more Africa and Europe’s top business and public sector leaders gather to chart Africa’s economic rebirthRead more The Thai delegation’s active participation at the 145th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in KigaliRead more Canon shares winning image of its Redline Challenge competition 2022Read more

UK defends Brexit deal despite economic woes

show caption
UK finance minister Jeremy Hunt defended the government's Brexit deal with the EU./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Nov 24, 2022 - 02:17 PM

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Finance minister Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday defended the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, despite growing criticism about its economic impact, and rejected claims he was pushing for closer European ties.

Hunt, who voted to remain in the European Union at the 2016 referendum, was rumoured to be the source of a report last weekend that the government was eyeing a “Swiss-style” deal with Brussels.

But he scotched talk he was the “senior government figure” quoted in the article, which has threatened to reopen deep divisions in the ruling Conservatives over the form Brexit should take.

The government supports the trade and cooperation agreement (TCA) struck with the EU, he told the influential cross-party Treasury Committee in parliament.

“We think it is an excellent agreement,” he added.

“We do not support, we would not contemplate, I do not support, I have never contemplated, any agreement which means moving away from the TCA.

“That means we are not negotiating or deciding the regulations that we want as sovereign equals, paying unnecessary money to the EU or indeed compromising on freedom of movement.

“That has always been my position as Chancellor (of the Exchequer).”

He added: “With respect to the story in the Sunday Times, if you’re saying was the Treasury, was I, the source for any suggestion we should seek to renegotiate the TCA to move it towards an agreement more like the agreement with Switzerland, the answer is no.”

Tough going 

Former UK prime minister Theresa May proposed a similar deal, which was roundly rejected by lawmakers, and which contributed to her downfall in 2019.

May’s successor, Boris Johnson, railroaded his own “harder” Brexit deal through parliament on the back of a landslide 2019 general election win fought on a campaign to “get Brexit done”.

But despite promises of greater freedoms to set policy and chart its own course in the world, the UK has found post-Brexit life tough going, even without the shock of the Covid pandemic.

The Bank of England and the government’s independent spending watchdog have both said Brexit has hurt the UK economy and plunged it to the brink of recession.

On Tuesday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast the UK economy would contract more than any of the world’s seven most advanced nations next year.

Many critics have partly blamed the fallout from Brexit, which saw the UK withdraw from the European single market and customs union, and end free movement between member states.

Switzerland has far closer ties with the bloc through bilateral agreements allowing access to the single market, a high degree of free movement and by paying into EU coffers.

But on Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ruled out pursuing “any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU laws” as eurosceptic Tories warned of backsliding.

The European Commission says no Swiss-style deal is on the table.

Hunt last week hiked taxes and slashed spending, to try to reverse unfunded tax cuts by his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng, under short-lived premier Liz Truss, that sparked markets chaos and worsened a cost-of-living crisis of high energy bills and inflation.

Hunt also suggested on Wednesday that support for householders would not be extended beyond early 2024, even if energy bills remain elevated.

  • bio
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • latest posts

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.